- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

FLORIDA

Lawmakers drop Crist endorsement

MIAMI | Lately, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, has been having a tough time in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat, and he’s experienced another setback.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart confirmed Tuesday that he and his brother, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, have rescinded their endorsement of Mr. Crist for the Republican primary.

Mario Diaz-Balart declined to say why the men - both Florida Republicans - were rescinding their endorsement. He would say only that they notified Mr. Crist weeks ago and that he “left them no choice.”

Mario Diaz-Balart said it’s the first endorsement they’ve rescinded. The congressman said he had no plans to endorse another candidate.

HEALTH

Swine flu vaccine reaches 60 million

At least 60 million people in the United States have been vaccinated against swine flu, and children are twice as likely as adults to have been inoculated, a top health official said Tuesday.

“We think right now at least 60 million people have been vaccinated” against pandemic H1N1 flu, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Her findings were based on extrapolating data from separate CDC and Harvard University surveys conducted earlier this month on swine flu vaccine uptake.

The CDC survey showed that about 46 million people had been vaccinated by the week of Dec. 6-12, while the Harvard survey, conducted 10 days later, showed about 56 million people had been vaccinated, Dr. Schuchat said.

Both studies showed that children were more likely to have been inoculated against swine flu than adults, she said.

REPUBLICANS

Five tell Ugandan: Halt gay death law

Five Republican House members are urging the president of Uganda to oppose a proposed law that would impose the death penalty for some gay Ugandans.

The lawmakers say that they are all men of faith and that the bill is antithetical to the Christian belief of “inherent dignity and worth” of all people. The congressmen used a Tuesday letter to urge President Yoweri Museveni to stop the bill from becoming law.

The bill would mandate a death sentence for active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.

The letter was signed by Reps. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Trent Franks of Arizona and Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana.

FRANCE

6 senators hit ship sale to Russia

Six U.S. senators have warned France against the planned sale of a powerful warship to Russia, saying the move has unsettled NATO allies and Moscow’s neighbors and risks upsetting regional stability.

“We fear this sale sends Russia the message that France acquiesces to its increasingly bellicose and lawless behavior,” the senators, all Republicans, said in a letter dated Friday to French Ambassador Pierre Vimont in Washington.

The group included Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate; John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sam Brownback of Kansas; Jim Risch of Idaho; Roger Wicker of Mississippi; and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The letter, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine on its Web site, came after members of the House of Representatives also expressed concerns about the planned sale of a Mistral-class warship to Russia.

The vessel is a 21,000-ton, 650-foot amphibious assault ship that can carry heavy-lift helicopters, landing craft, tanks and up to 900 commandos. It is the second-largest ship in the French fleet.

WHITE HOUSE

Obamas get swine flu vaccine

President Obama said Tuesday that he and his wife, Michelle, have been vaccinated against swine flu, urging other Americans to do the same.

“People need to understand that this vaccine is safe,” Mr. Obama told Urban Radio Networks.

“Michelle and I just got the shots ourselves. … We wanted to make sure nationwide that children were getting it before adults did. And now there’s enough vaccine so that adults should get it as well.”

The White House released a photograph of Mr. Obama pulling up his sleeve as a nurse stood by, needle in hand, to administer the vaccine.

FIRST LADY

President will get ‘sports stuff’ as gift

President Obama is getting “sports stuff” for Christmas.

First lady Michelle Obama would reveal only that much during a visit to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington on Tuesday. Mrs. Obama read ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to several dozen sick children and then answered some of their questions.

One child wanted to know what the president would be getting for Christmas.

At first, Mrs. Obama said she couldn’t tell because daughters Malia and Sasha, who were sitting beside her, would tell their father. But Mrs. Obama relented and said she got the president “sports stuff.”

COURTS

Farmers lose hemp lawsuit

BISMARCK, N.D. | A federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit by two North Dakota farmers seeking to grow hemp.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Tuesday.

Farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson received North Dakota’s first state licenses to grow industrial hemp nearly three years ago, but they never received approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case has been before the appeals court for more than a year after U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed it.

Hemp is used to make paper, lotion and other products. It’s also related to the illegal drug marijuana. Under federal law, parts of an industrial hemp plant are considered controlled substances.

SECRET SERVICE

Woman detained as threat to first lady

HONOLULU | Authorities say a woman accused of threatening to kill first lady Michelle Obama is in federal custody in Honolulu as the Obama family plans to travel to Hawaii.

The Secret Service says Kristy Lee Roshia called its Boston office last month and told a receptionist, “I will kill Michelle Obama” and “I will kill Marines.”

Miss Roshia also is suspected of mailing photographs of herself, poems and love letters to the Secret Service.

Agents arrested Miss Roshia on Saturday after she told them that she knew where President Obama and his wife will be staying during a visit to the islands later this week.

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